Saturday, July 14, 2012

Collard Greens and Bok Choy

Many years ago, my husband was a Marine and we were stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.  I knew a little about southern cooking, and some of the recipes from my Texas mother and aunts can be found on this blog. 

But in North Carolina I learned more about some of the wonderful food that is most familiar to the African American community, and is at least a bit spicy.  Yep, "soul food."  I mean that in no pejorative sense whatsoever. 

I worked at a group home where the warm and wonderful housekeeper and cook, Gladys, made meals that made everyone's mouth water.  I learned to like turnips, rhutabagas, and collards.  Collards can be hard to find here in Wisconsin but I grab them when I see them. 

This recipe is a bit like what Gladys made.  May she rest in peace, and I hope when I arrive on the other side, I find she has cooked me a Welcome-to-Heaven meal!

6 bacon slices
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce (I prefer Kikoman, or other Japanese soy sauce to its weaker Chinese cousin.)
1 tablespoon Dijon-style  mustard
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
4 cups (about 6 ounces) thinly sliced collard greens (about 2 bunches)
4 cups (about 1-1/2 pounds) thinly sliced bok choy (about 2 heads)

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels, and crumble into small pieces. Set aside.

In small saucepan, bring the coconut milk and soy sauce to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard and crumbled bacon. Set aside

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large straight-sided pan over low heat. Add the garlic, and slowly toast until pale golden brown, about 10 minutes. (Be careful not to let it burn). Lift the garlic out of the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the collard greens and cook, stirring frequently, until the greens start to wilt. Stir in the coconut milk mixture and cook for about 20 minutes, until the greens are tender and the sauce has thickened.

In a separate pot bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil. Blanch the bok choy, and fold into the collard greens during the last minute of cooking. Stir the reserved garlic into the greens and serve.

This recipe is for a group and makes 6-8 servings.  I usually cut it in half.

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